Receiving a favorable decision from the SSA is a relief. What does that mean?

What are the different types of disability benefits you will receive?

This article briefly describes the type and kind of benefits you should expect to receive if your Social Security disability application is approved.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

While each specific case is different, there are generally three types of benefits you may receive once your disability claim is approved.

These benefits are generally intended to provide income and medical care.

Monthly cash payments

  1. Title II (or SSD)your monthly benefit is calculated through a complex algorithm that takes factors including your income history, age, dependents, and the amount that they have paid toward social security disability insurance into consideration.
  2. Title XVI (or SSI) – the maximum amount of SSI benefits in Louisiana is $783 per month currently.  This amount may be reduced as a result of a number of factors such as income, spouse’s income, in-kind support (family/friends allowing you to live in their home for free), and other factors.​

Back Payment Lump Sum

Often times, the disability benefits approval process takes a long time, especially if you have to go to a hearing or further. 

Also, you may not have applied for benefits immediately upon becoming disabled, thinking that you would get better. 

In these situations, the date you are finally awarded disability benefits will be after the date you either became disabled and/or became entitled to disability benefits.  This is referred to as your onset date.

Once you are approved for disability, you are entitled to receive the back payments due to you in a lump sum.

  1. Title II (or SSD) exception 1 – you can only receive back benefits for 1 year prior to the date you applied for benefits. For example, if you became disabled on 1/1/2015 but did not file an application until 1/1/2018, even though you are found disabled all the way back to 1/1/2015, you could only receive benefits from 1/1/2017 going forward.
  2. Title II (or SSD) exception 2 – SSA does not pay benefits for the first 5 months of your disability. For example, if you became disabled on 1/1/2018 and filed on 1/1/2018, with a decision on 5/1/2018, you would not receive any back benefits because your first month of entitlement would be 6/1/2018 (The 6th month following your onset date is the first month your benefits may be payable).
  3. Title XVI (or SSI) exception 1 – entitlement to SSI benefits does not begin until the first full month after the date of your application. For example, if you became disabled on 1/1/2015 but did not file until 1/8/2017, with a favorable decision dated 5/4/2018, your entitlement to benefits would begin on 2/1/2017 (the first full month after your application date). Thus, the back benefits would only be due from 2/1/2017 until the date of the decision.
  4. Title XVI (or SSI) exception 2 – SSA is limited by law as to how much in back benefits can be paid to you at one time. If your SSI back benefits exceed $2,000, they must be paid to you in installments. SSA will generally pay you $2,000 upon approval, up to another $2,000 6 months following approval, and the remainder of the amount due in another 6 months. There are special rules for spending this money timely to avoid it counting against your resources that must be followed.  There are also special rules for obtaining more than $2,000 in one installment for certain expenses or bills. If this is your situation, you should speak with someone knowledgeable about all of the particulars of SSI.

Medical Coverage

This benefit is available to people who qualify for either Title II/SSD (Medicare) or Title XVI/SSI (Medicaid).

There are certain limitations.

For example, a Title II recipient can receive Medicare, but only after the receipt of 24 months of disability payments.

A Title XVI recipient may get Medicaid upon approval for SSI.

There may be a premium that is deducted from your monthly benefit and/or lump sum award to pay for the coverage.

How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Me Benefits if I am Approved?

Social Security Disability benefits will not be retroactively paid for more than one year prior to the date of an application for an SSI, SSDI, or Disabled Widower(s) claim.

Disabled Adult Child benefits will not be paid retroactively for more than six months prior to the claim.

You want to file as soon as possible so that you do not leave any of your hard-earned benefits on the table.

How Long do You Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

Generally, you will receive disability benefits until the earlier of the following: (1) you die, (2) you reach full retirement age, (3) you are no longer disabled and/or you have substantial earnings from work for longer than the trial work period.

Can You Lose Your Social Security Disability Benefits?

  1. SSA rules require a continuing disability review (CDR) every three to seven years in order to allow SSA to determine whether or not your condition has substantially improved such that you are no longer disabled.  SSA will obtain your medical records and evaluate whether you are still disabled from work in any position for which they are qualified.
  2. You can earn some income while receiving Title II/SSD disability benefits. Once you are approved for disability, SSA rules allow you to earn up to $1260 per month (for 2020), with no penalty. If you earn more than this amount per month, you are considered to be in a trial work period. A trial work period is defined by SSA as a nine-month period where a disabled person is testing their ability to work. A month counts towards this nine-month period only if your earnings are above $1260 (for 2020). Any month you earn more than this is counted, and the months do not have to be consecutive. For example, you may work in January and February earning $2,500 each month, but March through November, your earnings may be $500 per month, and then in December, your earnings are $1,300. This would count as 3 months towards your 9 trial work period months. Once you use all of your trial work period months, any earnings above the $1260 (for 2020) will disqualify you from further Title II benefits. Blind Title II disability benefit recipients can make slightly more before they are disqualified. Please note that this only applies to Title II/SSD recipients. If you receive Title XVI/SSI benefits, any earnings you have in a month will reduce your benefit payment.

Other factors such as becoming incarcerated can also lead to losing your disability payments. 

If you have questions, please seek the assistance of a knowledgeable SS disability benefits attorney. Give our office a call at 985-240-9773 or use our online contact form.

Social Security Disability Payment Schedule

This is the 2021 SSA payment calendar. Generally,

  • If you receive both SSDI and SSI or you have been receiving benefits since prior to 1997, your payment is in the first week of the month.
  • SSDI payments arrive on the second Wednesday of the month for people with a birthday between the 1st and 10th of the month.
  • SSDI payments arrive on the third Wednesday of the month for people with a birthday between the 11th and 20th of the month.
  • SSDI payments arrive on the fourth Wednesday of the month for people with a birthday between the 21st and 31st of the month.
  • SSI only payments are made on the 1st day of a month, or if the 1st day of the month is a Saturday or Sunday, on the last day of the preceding month.

Cost of Living and Disability Payments

Cost of living adjustments (COLA) can be made to ensure that the amount of the benefit is keeping up with the costs of inflation.

Increases for COLA purposes are determined once per year (generally in the last quarter of the previous year) according to changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

What do I do next?

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Accident, injury, and disability attorney serving Luling, Metairie, New Orleans, and South Louisiana